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What does this word "Cracker" mean to you?

What does this word mean to you: "cracker?"
I've been hearing this word quite a lot lately from the Radio when people are referring to the Southern states. I want to know what this little word means to you.

what it means 11.Aug.2004 17:01

indy

Cracker means poor white trash.

cracker 11.Aug.2004 17:24

the baker man

a cracker is a crispy bread product that you eat with cheese

Cracker was the term 11.Aug.2004 18:11

I always believed

that discribed the white over-lord who "cracked" the whip. Just as Honkies was the term for men that drove up and honked to summon black mistressess to the curb.


I didn't find that definition though. Just the po' white trash reference. Really need the OED to be certain.

White male southern racist 11.Aug.2004 18:11

Not me

Not too bright.

As in.... 11.Aug.2004 18:17

Wondering

"Cracker States"?

How was it used exactly and who is using it...please. It is an interesting word to use as a political descriptor.

Maybe it is replacing; "Joe six pack" as a gender-free replacement so as not to offend the po white trash of either sex or indeterminable gender.

This is a cracker.... 11.Aug.2004 19:03

me

Go to a Del McCoury concert and you'll see one in the flesh....

He is an amazing caricature of the silver haired cracker!

Pretty darn good music I'd say!

Many meanings 11.Aug.2004 19:14

Shrex rex@efn.org

Many uses exist and many theories of where it came from do to. For me growing up in Florida, it started out as a word blacks used to refer to whites who called them the N word. It probably came from Georgia - Kentucky which were called the Corn-Craker state then later Georgia the Cracker State.

A couple positive spins are the positive conotations refering to the traditional southern building style of Cracker Houses and the resurgence of Cracker Style Architecture. The style almost died with the advent of air conditioning but has been revived by energy concious builders and southern building tradition revivalists. Cracker houses had large eaves to shade walls, large covered front porches where the family couch was often located and an airspace beneath the house to allow cooling air to circulate beneath it.

For me personally and many other Florida born people, sometime in the late 80's early 90's it became an endearing term to refer to ourselves. Being a Florida Cracker was favorable instead of being one of the greater than 50% of Florida residents who moved there from some place cold to invade our woodlands and wetlands with golf courses, houses and highways. Florida Crackers in this context valued the states natural and cultural heritage instead of mouse ears and space ships.

I doubt that the general conotation would be positive in a news reporting instance but I also would be surprised/dissapointed to hear it used in main stream media because of lingering cultural sensitivities.

CONTEMPTUOUS DICTION 11.Aug.2004 19:45

GRINGO

cracker might just be white,but i would prefer to think that a cracker is not just a racist white, but one who knows he's racist without a desire to change. i think cracker may or may not be a derogatory term...depending on who is using the term if i refer to myself as a cracker i am not deriding myself, but if someone else calls me a cracker ...i would consider that derogatory. i am a white and i do have some interesting experiences....when i was 18 i got jumped by 2 blacks and 2 whites so if i am prejudiced it is against thugs not colors, but i would still have head trips if my neice wanted to date a man of color...but i still don't think i am a cracker.
also, "p.w.t." is a phrase which lowers it's user and airs the fact that thewy are racist....it needs to be used less than the word octaroon.

Cracker 12.Aug.2004 06:25

hhhh

Cracker is used in England to refer to someone who is white.
Not sure if it is supposed to have as much meaning beind it as everyone tries to put there.

kracker 12.Aug.2004 09:03

net541

cracker is someone who can crack most anything. someone who can do magic with a system and crack codes? or when used with contempt, someone who's white as a cracker? why you wanna know?

Who is "GRINGO"? - it's not me 12.Aug.2004 11:33

GRINGO STARS

A cracker is a white person, in my understanding.

Gaelic lesson for White Trash 12.Aug.2004 12:20

McHonkey

The word "cracker" comes from Scots-Irish exiles in Appalachia. It is Gaelic in derivation - from the word "craic" meaning a good time in which there is lots of music and conversation. It was generally applied to boastful, rowdy Celtic-Americans who like to talk a lot about themselves.

Source: CRACKER CULTURE: CELTIC WAYS IN THE OLD SOUTH by Grady McWhiney

Black People Have Told Me This 12.Aug.2004 12:33

SKiDmark

Cracker comes from what slaves call the white slave owners because he is the one who cracks the whip, hence, he is the "cracker". It is the equivalent to the word "nigger" . It is definitely a derogative term used by people of color to describe white people.

Yet another meaning 12.Aug.2004 13:01

Bison Boy

Cracker is also a subtype of hacker. Crackers use their computer skills to break into protected systems. A more subtle usage divdes crackers into "white hats" who do these penetration tests to expose and fix weaknesses in networks or systems, and "black hats" who penetrate systems in order to accomplish some nefarious purpose.

Whenever "hacker" appears in the mass media, odds are "cracker" would be a more appropriate word. See  http://www.jargon.net/jargonfile/c/cracker.html

PS: GS, I knew that gringo couldn't be you. You have better taste than to use allcaps. :-)

More on Cracker Lore 12.Aug.2004 14:38

library mouse reposting

Chubby Checker song lyric:

Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Does your momma chaw tobacca
If ya momma chaw tobacca,say
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Does your momma chaw tobacca
If ya momma chaw tobacca,say
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Who your love, Who your love I say
You know I love my mother-in-law
If your love momma like you say
Why can't momma chaw
Everybody yup
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Does your momma chaw tobacca
If ya momma chaw tobacca,say
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Momma loves momma loves you all
And you know I'm her son-in-law
If you love me like you say you do
Chaw tobacca too
Hey Ar
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Does your momma chaw tobacca
If ya momma chaw tobacca,say
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker
Hooka Tooka my soda cracker...fade
================================
"Cracker"

Karanja Burke

Don West's poem "Look Here, America" is powerfully assertive and unorthodox, declaring the absence of racism in the hills of Appalachia. Furthermore, West shows his sadness that this racism still exists in other parts of the country. According to the poem, while people are wasting their time worrying about the color of a person's skin, the residents of Appalachia are embracing each other and shamelessly working together. West urges the citizens of America to investigate this problem, and to view Appalachia as an example of triumph. Interestingly enough, "Look Here, America" was published in 1946, some 15 years before sentiments of civil rights became widespread.

In his poem, West refers to himself and White southerners as "crackers." The term is generally of a derogatory nature, and seems to be resident to the South. Despite its negative connotations, it is sometimes seen as a term of endearment, especially among White Georgians, although many Southern whites do not use nor do they approve of the term. "Cracker" has specific ethnic connotations, directed towards White Southerners, and more frequently, poor ones. Of its peculiar dual nature, Irving Allen writes, "'Cracker' is a positive or at least a humorous self-label for many Georgians. But in and beyond Georgia it was and remains a class epithet, and is more recently a black term for any white, Southerner or Northerner, who is thought to be a racist" (59). Peculiarly, in the book Black Jargon in White America by David Claerbaut, the latter, more negative racist definition of cracker is listed first (Claerbaut 61).

The origins of the term are uncertain, though there are a few conjectures. Dave Wilton, who studies etymology as a hobby, presents the idea that the term may have come from the word corncracker, which describes someone who cracks corn for liquor, a common practice especially in early Appalachia. Wilton writes, "The song lyric 'Jimmy Crack Corn' is a reference to this. In the song, a slave sings about how his master got drunk, fell, hit his head, and died. And the slave 'don't care.' (This was a pretty subversive song for its day.) This usage, however, is probably not the origin of the ethnic term cracker" (Wilton, par. 1). Wilton also suggests that the term may have come from 16th century Old English, where "to crack" meant to boast. There isn't much to reinforce this belief, however.

Going along with the cracked corn theory, Delma Presley, a noted scholar, believes that "cracker" came from as far back as the 18th Century, where cracked corn was actually consumed by the Scots-Irish (Allen 50). As those settlers came to Appalachia, the practice of cracking corn to produce liquor became popular, and the term thus followed them. Then, while the Scots-Irish and several other ethnic groups populated Appalachia, cracker was applied to all of the white inhabitants.

Clarence Major, in his Dictionary of Afro-American Slang, lists two rather interesting ideas about the origin of the term. The first is that a "cracker" was a slang term used by 19th Century Georgian slaves to refer to the slavemasters. If this were in fact, true, then the term would come directly from the cracking of the slavemaster's whip. This is quite a peculiar theory, because it would immediately explain the negative connotation that the word has taken. However, there seems to be little or no support for this theory, and no other source that was studied mentions it.

The other theory Major suggests is that, in light of the extreme racial tension of the 19th Century, "cracker" came straight from "the white soda cracker as opposed to say, ginger cookies" (Major 42). Again, this would explain where the derogatory undertones could originate. But as with Major's first explanation, there seems to be no reinforcement for this, and this was the only source that made any mention of such an origin. The former of Major's etymologies does seem to somewhat hint back to the popular cracked corn theory, but it is the only theory investigated that gave such an assertion. Major's definition of cracker is simple: "a white person" (Allen 42). One particular thing to note is that Major's Dictionary was published in 1970, towards the end of the civil rights era, which, along with years of Reconstruction, mark arguably the two most tense ages with concern to relations between Blacks and Whites.

Why Georgia is listed so many times as an assumed origin for "cracker" is not known.

As one can see, there are many possible origins for cracker, and no one seems to have a definitive idea as to where it exactly received its current meaning. As stated before, despite the fact that it was once and still is used as an insult, white Southerners, to however small an extent, have embraced the term, and use it even jokingly among themselves, much like nigger, chink, spic, and redneck have been inverted. As another example of this, Irving Allen tells us that "the term redneck was... applied to any working-class Southerner in the genteel view" (Allen 58). George Wallace and Jeff Foxworthy are two people who were instrumental in this reversal of redneck's connotations.

So, one final question is, just why did Don West decide to refer to himself and White Appalachians as crackers in his poems? West was making a statement, further strengthening his anti-racism theme in "Look Here, America." By calling himself a "cracker," he debases himself in order to figuratively put himself on the same level as his black counterpart, to emphasize that he holds no qualms in holding a black man's hand, and calling him his brother (West, 3.5-8). It's strikingly ironic that many view Appalachia as an extremely prejudiced region, and West surprises America by declaring his happiness to interact with blacks.

Works Cited

Allen, Irving Lewis. Unkind Words: Ethnic Labeling from Redskin to WASP. New York: Bergin and Garvey, 1990.

Claerbaut, David. Black Jargon in White America. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972.

Major, Clarence. Dictionary of Afro-American Slang. New York: International Publishers, 1970.

West, Don. "Look Here, America." < http://athena.english.vt.edu/~appalach/readings/poetry1.htm>

David Wilton < http://www.wilton.net/wordorc.htm#cracker>


funny 12.Aug.2004 16:42

clamydia

I'm sure that the word cracker didn't come from this, but it's funny if you think about the fact that the CIA agents who introduced crack into black-dominant ghettos were probably mostly white, and thus they were "crackers" in more than one sense of the word. If you think about crack as being a computer virus, and the communities into which it was introduced as being computer systems that became corrupted by the CIA's little gift, then you get yet another weird little "cracker" connotation, although I still maintain that the word "cracker" should not be synonymous with "computer criminal".

Shrex 13.Aug.2004 00:13

Red neck

Thanks for posting about a resurgence of Cracker Style Architecture, I didn't know. It's good to see that there are some people learning from traditional, natural ways. Instead of just those ranchers with a heat pump.
The term white trash should be tabooed. In fact it practically was in the Cold War. It wasn't until the age of Reagan with its brutal attack on the poor and working class did it fall back into favor. Why not just trash? Why is white added?

Cracker really means 22.Aug.2004 13:52

nahcloh2o@aol,com

The term Cracker comes from the sound emitted by the whips of the Florida cowboy. These Brave men herded cows to feed the people of the time. Florida has feed this country over the years and been slandered by the ignorant few. To be a cracker is really the same as beinging a "Cowboy" who tamed the West but had to endure swamps alligators and snakes. So thanks for calling me a Cracker! If you would like to know the "redneck" did not mean an ignorant white person. The term "redneck" was used to describe a white man who worked for his family and his sun was burned red by the sun as he worked his fields.

Cracker in England 03.Nov.2004 09:46

Smash littlesmasher@yahoo.com

In England we don't use the word Cracker to mean anything disparaging. The meanings that we take from the word [that you won't find on Dictionary.com or that hasn't been mentioned here] include 'an attractive woman' - "she's a cracker", or 'a good/clever joke' "what a cracker"

Crackingly yours,

Little Smasher

The many meanings of cracker (to my knowledge) 25.Sep.2005 11:23

Dick T. Ionary

cracker= -a grain-based snack -in England it means "insane", "stupid", or "incorrect" -one who breaks computer codes -a derrogatory term for whites *********down with racism, sexism and anti-semitism!*********